Wry Exchange

Age of Exchange Students & School Attendance
09-21-07, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program | Tags: , , , , ,

 Colorblind Cupid from one of my favorite blogs asked a question about graduated students attending a 5th year of high school.
It’s a high school exchange program, so they are SUPPOSED to go to high school. 
Inbound Students: In the US, students don’t have a choice.  Their J-1 Visa is dependant on them attending school.  We track their attendance through their report cards.  We prefer to host students who have NOT graduated so they can play sports.  The students who join sports teams make friends much earlier than students who don’t.  Graduated students aren’t eligible to play.   All Belgian students have graduated before they arrive.  Many of the German, French, and Slovak students have 2 years of high school left when they return.  German and French schools do not recognize US school credits.  Most of the South Americans come here halfway through their Senior year.  Their year in the US will count towards their graduation requirements.  Some of the lucky students receive US high school diplomas.  It’s up to each school board to decide if the FES’s are eligible.  The students can take any classes they want if they don’t need credits for their home school.  We do want the kids to take US government or economics so they understand our culture, and see our point of view.
 Outbounds-Students from US:  Younger students attend high school all year.  Graduated students seem to have flexibility.  We try to position this as a ‘gap year’ or ‘finishing year.’  It’s a pretty tough year, our local high schools aren’t as tough as the foreign ones. Also, the other countries don’t seem to let students choose classes too much. (It’s tough to generalize. We exchange with about 20 different countries.) If they’re in a college prep track, they take the same as everyone else. In South America, the kids usually go to high school until Winter break in late November/early December, then audit college classes, travel, or take music or art lessons. It depends in Asia, if they go to Taiwan, they have high school and exchange student classes. In India, it’s mostly cultural classes.   Many times, the students abroad attend private schools paid by the host parents.  I think the hostparents are fine with the students learning in uh, nontraditional ways.


Family Hosting Rules-Part 2

Money Matters-Some schools give the students free passes to athletic events and free lunches. The student’s family is responsible for making sure he/she has access to money at all times. Most of the students arrive with a Visa/Mastercard. If the student doesn’t have a credit/debit card, he must give his counselor $300.00  to hold as an emergency fund. This $300.00 is refunded at the end of the year if it is unused.
Health Insurance-The students purchase health insurance through our program within 30 days of arrival. The price this year is $595.00. The students know they are responsible for this amount. The insurance covers the students from the time they get on the plane in their home country to the time they get on the plane to leave this country. Check with the counselor for suggestions.  We do have doctors, dentists, and optometrists willing to see the students at no charge.
 Religion-The student may not wish to attend church services; the student should attend church with your family at least once, as a cultural experience. If going to weekly services is important to your family, and you want the student to attend with you, he/she must go. If the student wishes to attend a different church, we will find someone to take the student if it is not within walking distance, but it has to be in your community. Please respect each other’s beliefs or lack of belief. 
School-Students are in the US on a J-1 Student Visa. School attendance is a requirement. Disrespect, disruption, and F’s are not tolerated. The advisor will be in contact with the school frequently to check on the ES’s progress. It is usual to make at least a few schedule changes to accommodate the student’s English skills and prior schooling. The school wants the student to have a successful experience here, and the teachers are very good about tailoring classes to fit the student’s abilities. The ES is encouraged to take part in student activities and sports while here A copy of the student’s report cards must be sent to the Inbound Student Coordinator each 9 weeks. Students cannot terminate school early unless they are going home early for entrance exams or another valid reason.   If the student drops out of school, he/she will be sent home for violating Visa requirements.
Smoking-Almost all of our students are non-smokers according to their applications and will not smoke during their stay. It’s also illegal for minors to purchase cigarettes.
Dating-is neither encouraged nor forbidden. If the student starts dating seriously, please tell the advisor so we can have a talk about risks and responsibilities.
Exchange Student MeetingsWe welcome all host siblings, friends, classmates, and students from other exchange programs to our meetings. Host parents are welcome to stay and interact with the students. Your exchange student will have monthly meetings with other students in our district.  It is helpful for the students to discuss their experiences with other foreigners. No one else understands exactly what the exchange year is like. They also speak with the program advisors at these meetings. All of our program’s meetings are overnighters. This is to have time to discuss problems and solutions. They are very helpful to the students. The students are strongly encouraged to make friends with the other students in their high schools, but no one but the other exchange students can completely understand what it’s like to be young and away from your culture, country, friends, family. They need peers to talk over their experiences here in the states. The students should bring a pillow, sleeping bag, toiletries, and gym clothes to each overnighter. We will tell them if they have to bring additional items, i.e. swimsuit.
 Depression-All ES become depressed. There is even a cycle to it. The first will usually be about 8 weeks after arrival.  The student will be getting into a routine and may be thinking, “This is it? This is what I’ll be doing for a year? This is where I’ll be?’ Then comes Christmas.  That’s usually the worst one, of course. Then about the end of winter is the last one. The student still has a long way to go, and misses his home. The student usually gets sad when he/she is about ready to leave the states, too. Because of depression and homesickness, the ES’s tend to sleep a lot and eat quite a lot throughout the year.  It’s a way of coping.  Let the student take a short nap after school.  They may have grown up taking naps after class.  Thinking in another language is very stressful at the beginning.  Expect your student to have headaches.